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Australian live sheep export ban gets green light

News Section Icon Published 7/3/2024

Small lambs standing together

This week, history was made when the Australian Senate passed legislation enshrining the phase out of live sheep exports into law. This follows decades-long campaigning from organisations including the Australian Alliance for Animals, of which we are a founding member.

End of cruel trade is welcomed

Australia exports around 600,000 live sheep by sea each year to the Middle East on voyages that take over three weeks.*

On board, sheep are subject to myriad welfare issues, including crowding, heat stress, unsanitary environments, thirst and hunger, injury and disease. On leaving Australian shores, there is little effective legal protection, and current hostilities in the Middle East have further exacerbated the suffering of these animals. Recently, headlines were made when a ship carrying 15,000 sheep was returned to Australia due to the conflict, after weeks at sea. Following days anchored off the Western Australian coast during a heatwave, the MV Bahijah took sail again, this time around the horn of Africa, extending the animals’ misery onboard a further month.

The Labor government pledged to ban live sheep exports when it came to power in 2022. In August 2023, almost 44,000 Australians signed a Parliamentary petition – one of the largest e-Petitions in history – calling on the government to legislate the date to end the cruel trade as soon as possible. Despite pushback from the industry, the Australian government honoured their election promise, and finally, on 1 July, the ban became law and will come into force in May 2028.

World called for change on Ban Live Exports International Awareness Day

Just a few weeks ago, on 14 June, citizens and organisations across the world mobilised to commemorate Ban Live Exports International Awareness Day, a day of observation we launched back in 2015. 

From Australia to Ireland, Brazil to Nepal, thousands of people shared a video we created exposing some of the suffering experienced by live animals each year, calling on the world to Ban Live Exports.

Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor, said: “The tide is turning. Just weeks after Great Britain enacted a ban, the Australian government has followed suit by voting to end the trade in live sheep exports by 2028. However, the practice continues elsewhere- each year millions of animals are transported across the world, with little legislation to protect their welfare. People are calling for a global ban, and, with Australia showing the way, it is time for the world to follow and consign live exports to the history books.”

Australian Alliance for Animals Strategy Director Dr Bidda Jones AM, who has been campaigning to end live sheep exports for over two decades, commented:

“Exporting sheep live by sea to the Middle East for slaughter is fundamentally inhumane and completely unnecessary, so we are overjoyed to know that it will finally be coming to an end.

“Today, we have seen the compassion of the Australian people prevail.”

Find out more about our campaign to Ban Live Exports.

*Australian Alliance for Animals


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